There’s an absolute boatload of anime available to binge right now on Netflix. Not every show is complete, but Netflix’s collection is a great way to get your feet wet or dive back into classic shows. These are our picks for the most binge worthy anime series Netflix has to offer.
ATTACK ON TITANS (ACTION)
Attack on Titan has been the quintessential disaster anime of the last few years, and if you haven’t seen it, you’re missing an important part of anime’s modern vocabulary. The inhabitants of a walled city attempt to keep out Titans, huge humanoid creatures with an appetite for people. The barrier has worked for 100 years, until now. Three childhood friends manage to stay alive, and the relationships between them are lovingly drawn. Attack on Titan is the battle of good against evil and the human thirst to survive, no matter the cost. It’s a thrilling watch, and there are plenty of full-length movies, novels, comics, and video games to enjoy after you’ve binged the original series.
THE DEATH NOTE (THRILLER/MYSTERY)
The Death Note gives its author the power to kill anyone instantly. But when the death-god gets bored and drops the supernatural notebook into the human world, trouble ensues. The Death Note is discovered by a student, who is quickly corrupted by its power. He attracts the attention of a mysterious detective, and their rivalry becomes an exciting chase that warps the definitions of “good” and “evil.”
GURREN LAGANN (ACTION/MECHA)
Gurren Lagann is smart, fast-paced, and beloved for its exciting characters, gorgeous animation, and sprawling plot. While many mecha anime series tend to be a turn off to newcomers because of all the giant robot talk, Gurren plunges you right into the action and gets you emotionally invested before you even know what’s happening. Even if you’re not up on your Japanese sci-fi tropes, this is an excellent, accessible series.
PUELLA MAGI MADOKA MAGICA / “MAGICAL GIRL” FANTACY
The sub-genre of anime called shoujo, or “magical girl” anime, became popular in the ‘90s with shows like Sailor Moon and Utena. Puella Magi Madoka Magica turns all the tropes of “magical girl” anime upside down. It combines gorgeous animation with an ensemble of powerful female fighters. The series has earned tremendous acclaim for subverting the genre and showing the dark side of girl power. Fans of Harry Potter should definitely give this series a spin.
ONE-PUNCH MAN (ACTION/COMEDY)
Choosing a superhero name is delicate business, but the powers of One Punch Man should be pretty clear: He can defeat anyone and anything with a single blow. Unlike other heroes, One Punch didn’t gain his powers at birth, or from a freak accident. He earned them through training. The lack of challenges in the world has left him depressed, until a 19-year-old cyborg appears at his door in hopes of becoming his disciple. With a new goal and sidekick, One Punch Man hopes to find more powerful enemies, and maybe even gain some fame in the process.
KILL LA KILL (ACTION/COMEDY)
On a quest to avenge her father’s murder, a high school student fights back against the oppressive student council establishment with the help of a uniform that grants her superhuman powers. That may sound a bit over the top, but it’s a fairly standard premise for a high school anime setting. Kill la Kill (also known as Dressed to Kill) is among the most influential in the action/comedy genre, and it shouldn’t be missed.
OURAN HIGH SCHOOL HOST CLUB (SATIRE/ROMANTIC COMEDY)
Ouran High School Host Club is a delightful and genre-bending comedy that pokes fun at the melodrama of anime tropes. But underneath, there’s a beautiful story of a genderqueer hero and how she changes her school. Although this series has been out for nearly a decade, it’s as fresh today as it was when it first debuted.
Only the first 3 seasons of Naruto are on Netflix at this time, but they’re a great place to begin one of the most popular anime series ever, about a would-be ninja whose cheerful nature masks untold power. It’s a story about friendship, brotherhood, and found families, and it will move you more than you might expect.
SWARD ART ONLINE (SCI-FI DYSTOPIA)
A virtual reality game has become a nightmare for an entire society of players who have become trapped inside. The drama unfolds as players battle each other to the death for survival. While the premise is a bit of a cliche these days, Sword Art Online is well worth your time thanks to beautiful animation, great pacing, and the unexpected intimacy between characters.
RURONI KENSHIN (HISTORICAL ACTION)
Ruroni Kenshin set the standard for lone, wandering swordsmen in anime when it debuted in the ‘90s. And while many action series have come after it, this slow-burning show doesn’t feel dated at all. The familiarity of these tropes and characters just proves the way of the Samurai is eternal.
Those are our picks for the best anime series on Netflix right now, but there is so much more to binge.